tv University of Virginia Law School Commencement Address CSPAN June 2, 2014 1:00am-1:20am EDT
government that defines us, but we define our government. as generations of lawyers who havecome before you said, this is not an easy task. every lawyer i have ever met has a story or two to carry with them, to like their mine comes not from a courtroom or a classroom, from a hot summer day on the streets of boston. the months after jumping into my first campaign in 2012, i signed up to march the boston pride parade. for those of you who have ever been to a pride parade, you can picture it. block after block of dancing, banners, confetti, general chaos. for those of you have a sense of barney frank, you can imagine he is not amused by any of it.
it was about 90 degrees and the parade has started two hours too late. we finally got underway. for the next few hours, i walked by his side and person after person pushed back the sidewalk barriers and rushed up to him with tears in her eyes. "thank you, congressman." "congressman, thank you, you changed my life." for three miles it was a course of people as they bid farewell to a man who entered public office would such a parade was not possible. 32 years later, he was fighting back tears of his own, probably holding his soon-to-be husband's hand in the streets of the city that was beaming with love and support and gratitude. another chapter in that story -- the following year i was back at the parade again with congressman frank. this time we were joined by my college roommate, jason collins. jason had recently become the first active male athletes to
come out as gay in our major professional sports. he was credited with watching the pride parade the year before, and helping him find the courage to speak up. on that talk june day, an african american basketball player stood next to a retired, jewish congressmen, and a pasty white redhaired irish guy. and three of us marched through the streets of boston in a scene that our forefathers could never have imagined. that is why our laws matter. because we can't predict the brightness of our own future. because new frontiers creates challenges that demand a 238-year-old system to be tried. even if it takes decades and decades to make it happen. last year i had the honor of meeting a lawyer named mary. she was going before the massachusetts supreme court.
it made massachusetts the very first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. it wasn't that fact that impressed me most, it was the fact that she had taken her fight to every state house in new england before marching its to the doors of the supreme court. it is the work she had done for 20 years before, the quiet decade she she put into the grittier parts, the aids epidemic, equality and housing, adoption. she had been laying the groundwork for years. with people like congressman frank, hundreds of thousands of lawyers and advocates, who toiled in the trenches of our
legal and legislative system without credit or fanfare. long before there was ever hope of having public opinion on their side, before jason collins became household names, before the supreme court that a lot claiming to defend marriage could actually degraded. before a judge in virginia would declare that, "we have arrived upon another moment in history when we the people become more inclusive and our freedom more perfect," as she deemed a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. write to its, your story -- graduates, your story, our story, is the work of countless, quiet heroes who came before you. you and i have never known the country where men and women could be bought and sold. where newspapers run ads that said, no irish need aplly, were found labeled "colored". the future is ours to form. someday, 30 years from now, your children and mine to be on
stages like this one and say that they have never known a country where you could be fired for who you love, pay less for your gender, where skin color doesn't matter at the ballot, the system that americans have fought for and bled for is not looked upon with disappointment. it is easy in law and government to get swept up in the big victories. in the public tree and pomp and circumstance, the triumph of justice. it is easy to forget that there are moments long before that took your breath away, there is a person whose name you don't know, sitting in a windowless office you will never see, with nothing more than a case file a telephone, a cup of coffee, a stack of books, into degree that looks an awful lot like the one you're about to receive.
groundwork. vigilance. case-by-case, i were by our, -- hour by hour, person by person. this is the legwork of our imperfect, ever evolving system. day in and day out. a system that is maddening yet inspiring, petty yet grand, a police low and relentlessly steady. -- painfully slow and relentlessly steady. that does not belong to any single one of us and yet all of us. and when we do that right, would be do that well, the force of
our history has changed. class of 2014, this is your purpose. to steadily been the ark of our beloved country towards justice, no matter the headwinds. to prove that the brightest days are yet to come and that we can still do big and bold things, not despite our humanity, but because of it. your country is waiting. may you work every day to make her as good, as graceful, as you know she can be. thank you so much, and congratulations. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [laughter] prime minister questions are
on c-span 2 wednesdays at 7 a.m. eastern and again on sunday night at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. next is a discussion about the goals from president obama and what his legacy might be. and former vice chief of staff discusses stresses facing veterans. after that, he has here to help veterans return to civilian life. c-span's new book "sundays at eight." of easternet system europe contained the seeds of its own problems. many problems we saw begins at the very getting.
control alltempt to institutions in all parts of the economy and political life and social life. when you try to control everything, you create opposition and potential dissidents everywhere. if you tell all artists to have to paint the same way and one artist says they don't want to paint that way, you have made him into a political dissidents. son who might otherwise have been a political. if you don't boy scout troops they can't be boy scout anymore and have to be young pioneers come of which is what happened in a number of countries and one group decides they don't want that and they formed a secret underground for scout -- boy scout group which is what happened, you had created another group of political opponents from other apolitical teenagers. >> read more of our conversation plebaum in c-span's
"sundays at eight." now available for father's day gift at your favorite bookseller. >> next is a discussion of the foreign and the policy goals of president obama and what his legacy may be. this is about 50 minutes. washington journal continues. back we want to welcome peter baker. his book is now out in paperback. thanks so much for being with us. your newspaperof is the soldier freed by the taliban and. what happened? host: this is been the last american pow in afghanistan. president obama is trying to turn a page on that war. he went to visit the troops and
came back to washington and announced he was going to withdraw all troops by the time he leaves office in 2016. finishing up the war in afghanistan means ringing home the last prisoner. he was not going to leave him behind. the trade-off is it required people that you don't want to do business with. five inmates from guantanamo were spent to cutter. the republican say we should not be trading bad guys for us. they could do more damage down the road. a statement from a republican from california. jim and off is the ranking
member of the senate armed services committee. this is what they had said in a joint statement. the presidenthis, violated law that would require dayso notify congress 30 or explain how the threat has been mitigated. birdoy at the release is a because of the president who chose to nor the law not to mention sound policy to achieve it. host: there is process and there is policy. thing. is one that is probably not the most important thing. guys for there's question mark in the history of war, we have had risen or swaps repeatedly, even during the cold war. the question is, do you
encourage violence or kidnappings? how big of a battle will he face? guest: at the end of the day, it is a done deal. his poweris it is during wartime and it is substantial. bushw that during the administration. images of him coming home are going to be very compelling and powerful. thee is a great desire on part of that are in zen military people to have one of their own home. host: they pointed to the white house new the president was violating the law and one of the rationales is when he signed tiesinto law, he said this the hand of the commander-in-chief and i don't
supported. guest: we saw this during the bush administration. law andl sign a lay -- say this unconstitutionally tries to can train the hour of the executive. this is a very explicit manifestation of this idea of presidents are picking and choosing sections of a law that they think are constitutional and ones that they don't. host: the president addressed his foreign policy at west point. i want to go back to wednesday's speech and share with you and the audience part of what the president said to the graduating cadets at west point and his next two and half years in the white house. >> this is my bottom line.
america must always lead on the world stage. if we don't, no one else will. the military that you have joined in will always be the backbone of that leadership. be they action cannot only or primary component of our leadership in every instance. have the beste hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. should expect every civilian leader and especially your commander-in-chief to be clear about how that possum -- awesome power should be used. what kind of reaction to
the president get? guest: not great. it was widely panned by a lot of foreign policy people in washington. they found it wanting. i think the white house said that was ok. these are a bunch of elites and he is in touch with the views of the broader american public that is wary of war and wary of playing a larger role. host: let me tell you what the new york times wrote. the president has been deeply frustrated. and private conversation, he has used a salter variation of the phrase don't do stupid stuff, enforcing ade no-fly zone in syria or ukrainianweapons to
troops. to a: he has boiled down bumper sticker type slogan. this idea of don't do stupid stuff. the policy of caution and restraint is a reaction to the bush era. is that it does not work out all that well. front page ofthe the washington examiner. how much of this speech was aimed at rand paul? critics on the other side would say this. are two different types of critics he is responding to. rand paul does not like the word isolationist, but he does have a more libertarian kind of view of the world.
he is responding to him on the one side. lindsay have the graham, john mccain winning that is more hawkish about aggressive foreign-policy. president obama is trying to address those critics as well. he is trying to find a middle ground between those two extremes. int: let me put these events perspective. the wars began in the bush administration. what is your take away? guest: here we are, 13 years later. it is striking that we are still debating and grappling with the issues that had their roots in the bush era. so may things on the front page like the nsa and gathering
images of people around the world, that has its roots in the bush era. is hugelybate today important. we need to understand where it came from. book one quote from the that is relevant to any president, in the summer of 2008, the thing that pressed -- .urprised him about the that is what obama is experiencing. the idea the presidency is magnified. it is only one part of our government. it is constrained by other factors. each president comes in thinking that they will be the master of the universe. each one discovers how hard it